Food, Drinks, and the Friends I’ve Made Having Them: A Celebration

The outer entrance of Gronk's Grill and Bar in Superior, Wisconsin

I wonder this about some of my favorite food writers, and maybe you wonder this about me: I see and read about where they’ve been, but where do they go? I’m talking about off-hours, without the notepad and food modeling sessions. They have “can’t wait,” they have “right now,” they have “classics” and God knows they have “best of,” but where do they just go?

I’m guilty, too. I’ll happily tell those who ask, sure, but my sin was making people ask in the first place. What I need to do is push my mantelpiece clean, put these jewels up under bright lights, point to each one and say “I go here.”

Now, I’m going to. We’re celebrating them all month long here at the Skinny.

Stick around and you’ll read about a food truck I obsess over, whose location often decides which taproom I’m drinking at. You’ll read about a bar with an off-menu cocktail named after me – which is an honor indeed, but I recommend the Brussels sprouts above everything else. You’ll read about a roadside diner, where I order the daily special and let the whole world go to voicemail. You’ll read about the hotel bar I first felt so out-of-place at, but now it’s practically home.

There are the bars I’ve been haunting all of my adult life, playing out phases at run-down pool tables, or sipping from pitchers in a ramshackle barber’s chair, or with a group of 10 crowded around a six-person high table. I always say “Motherfucking” at the start of their names because they excite me so much. There’s one bar, located three states away, that moved me so profoundly I’m flying out for one day just to visit.

I’ve written about some of them, some very recently. The recent entries will be found throughout the front page. Others I wrote long ago, before I really knew how to write about food (though, you could argue I still don’t). I’m going to borrow some of their best moves, and work them into modern productions. If it all goes to plan, a dozen new posts will be hitting the website this month.

It’s common to announce winners at the end of the year, yes, but this is something else. The members of this club have earned something more, something permanent, something that can’t be engraved on a plaque or summed up in an announcement post. This will be celebration, storytelling, great food and drink but plenty of stupid stuff done over the years. The way I feel when I think about them, I hope it comes through on the page. At the very least, you’ll know where I go.